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30 Teams in 30 Days: Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens head into training camp in a few weeks with a radically different set of expectations from a year ago.  After finishing 1st in the Eastern Conference last season, the Habs are a team that will no longer play second fiddle to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators of the world, believing a lengthy Stanley Cup run is well within their cards.  Montreal only made two significant moves during the offseason, adding veteran forwards Alex Tanguay and Georges Laraque, as general manager Bob Gainey showed confidence in a solid forward group that scored 257 goals last year (second only to Ottawa’s 258 goals).  The Canadiens feel their team is much better than the one that bowed out to the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round of last year’s playoffs and that is why the bulk of the roster was untouched.
 
Forwards:

Montreal boasts one of the most talented forward groups in the league.  When you consider that the Habs scored the second most goals in the league last year without the luxury of a Top-10 scorer (Alex Kovalev finished 11th in the NHL with 84 points), you know that this bunch is special.  Coach Guy Carbonneau and his staff believe in a balanced approach when it comes to offense, which means that Montreal typically ices three solid scoring lines and a hard-nose checking unit.  Whether Carbo rolls out the A.Kostitsyn-Plekanec-Kovalev line, the Tanguay-Koivu-Higgins line, or the Latendresse-Lapierre-S.Kostitsyn line, you know that you will have to skate, because this team is fast and aggressive.  Expect Montreal to contend for most goals in the league once again.

Defense:

To say that Montreal’s defense corps is young would be an understatement as 34-year-old Roman Hamrlik and 32-year-old Francis Bouillon aren’t exactly dinosaurs.  Nonetheless, the Canadiens defense is willing and able, with a healthy blend of size and speed.  Russian dynamo Andrei Markov elevated his game during the 2007’08 season (16 goals, 58 points), while Hamrlik and Bouillon provided a calm and steadying influence for talented young big man Mike Komisarek.  The Habs lost Mark Streit and his 62 points to free agency in the summer, which will hurt, but this is a team that will be more focused on their own end this year.  Josh Gorges is ready to take the next step and will be looked upon as a shut-down option along with Komisarek.  To round out this group, 24-year-old Ryan O’Byrne takes over from regular Patrice Brisebois as the team’s sixth defenseman.  

Goaltenders:

21-year-old Carey Price heads into training camp as Montreal’s undisputed top goalie and should play 55+ games this year.  Sure, Price was shaky in the second round playoff series versus Philadelphia but he is young, and will learn from his mistakes.  Some are quick to forget that Price won 24 games and had an impressive .920 save percentage as a rookie last season.  Jaroslav Halak is one of the more talented back-up goaltenders in the league and is a viable option should Price struggle.

Prediction:

Ceiling: 1st in the Eastern Conference.

Floor: 5th in the Eastern Conference.

Vive les Habitants!

What a wild and wacky Friday.

Jets beat Stars 5-4 in OT
Moose lose 3-0 to Griffins
Ice beat Blades 6-3

And we start all over again tomorrow. IC Hockey Show at 9 AM.

Lots of Jets content to come on https://illegalcurve.com/

If you couldn't join us live on the Illegal Curve Post-Game Show fear not as you can download the podcast or watch the replay.

https://illegalcurve.com/game-19-jets-5-stars-4-in-ot-post-game-recap/

Last up from American Airlines Arena was Jets bench boss Rick Bowness who spoke about his new team's OT victory over his old team.

https://illegalcurve.com/game-19-jets-5-stars-4-in-ot-post-game-recap/

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